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Photo credit: Think Progress

Photo credit: www.thinkprogress.org

As Policy Watch Reporter Sarah Ovaska has been reporting regularly of late, obtaining Food Stamps and the failure of North Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services to process applications in a timely manner remain big problems for lots of needy people.

One way to solve this problem, of course, would be for the McCrory/Wos administration to start doing its job and get claims processed properly. Another solution, however, that might have an even greater and more beneficial impact would be to raise incomes of people currently reduced to relying on Food Stamps — people like the workers at Wal-Mart.

Click here to read an amazing story and watch a compelling two-minute video about how the giant retailer (and the place where more Food Stamps are spent than anywhere else) could lift thousands of people out of poverty and save taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars per year just by paying workers a decent wage. And the impact on Wal-Mart prices of such a shift? Just over 1%!

Food bankBefore you sit down to open presents or enjoy a holiday feast tomorrow or at some other point over the coming days, take a moment or two to read Sarah Ovaska’s Christmas Eve story over on the main Policy Watch site — it’s called “Hungry, with no end in sight.”

After you’ve done that, take a few more minutes to contemplate what it would be like to rely like Sylvia Cameron on a paltry sum in SNAP benefits (i.e. Food Stamps) and the charity of others just to survive and stay nourished each month.

Next, briefly ruminate on the fact that a shocking percentage of your neighbors are in just such a boat — the vast majority of them good, honest, working people (and a huge percentage children).

Finally, if you make it this far, take at least a moment to consider the fact that this situation — one that does not exist in many other modern nations — might just not be the fault of those who are hungry and, in fact, might be, at least in some small measure, all of our responsibility.

You can read Sarah’s article by clicking here.

 

 

The good folks at Think Progress published a story yesterday entitled “Your assumptions about welfare recipients are wrong.” It’s a myth-buster worth checking out as we contemplate the realities that confront so many of our fellow Americans — especially during the holiday season.

“The stereotype of the low-income people enrolled in government programs is that they spend the money on frivolities and are unwise with their budgets. But the data proves otherwise. Families who receive public benefits such as housing assistance, welfare cash assistance, food stamps, Medicaid, and Social Security Income (SSI) for the disabled or low-income elderly have much smaller spending budgets than those who don’t receive benefits and spend a bigger portion on the basics such as food, housing, and transportation, according to an analysis by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

On average, families who are enrolled in these public programs spend less than half of what families who aren’t enrolled spend. They also put a bigger percentage of that money toward food, housing, and transportation, devoting 77 percent of their budgets to these necessities compared to about 65 percent for other families. Meanwhile, they spend less, on average, on some things thought to be luxuries like eating out and entertainment. A family that doesn’t get public benefits spends 4.5 percent of its budget on ‘food away from home,’ while a two-parent family who gets benefits spends 4 percent of its budget on eating out and a single parent spends 3.6 percent. ‘Food away from home spending was higher in both dollar amount and percent of total spending among families not receiving assistance,’ the report notes. Families who don’t need assistance also spend more on entertainment in both dollar and percentage terms and devote more of their budgets to ‘other’ expenses.

Read the rest of the story by clicking here.

Federal spending on the SNAP program—formally known as food stamps—is already declining as a share of the economy, according to a new report released by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.  This is the case even though some critics, who claim that SNAP is growing out of control, are calling for deeper SNAP cuts as part of current congressional negotiations over the Farm Bill. These cuts would come on top of the cuts that took place earlier this month.

North Carolina has the fifth highest food insecurity rate in the nation, and cuts on top of cuts will create an even greater challenge for the 1 in 6 Tar Heel households that struggle with too few resources to meet their family’s nutritional needs.

As expected, there was a steep rise in SNAP spending due to the Great Recession—the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression during the 1930s—and the lagging recovery. However, this spending trend is reversing, with the decline in spending expected to accelerate over the next five years (see chart below). Read More

If you’re planning on heading out for a fast food meal today, you might want to check out this petition being advanced by the good folks at the Campaign for America’s Future entitled “Tell McDonald’s to stop buying luxury jets until they pay their workers a l;iving wage.” As the post notes:

“More than half of low-wage workers employed by the largest U.S. fast-food restaurants earn so little that they must rely on public assistance to get by.

McDonald’s is the worst offender, costing taxpayers $1.2 billion in poverty benefits for its employees. McDonald’s claims that they operate on razor-thin profit margins and can’t pay a living wage.

Yet they announced they had bought yet another brand new $35 million corporate jet for their fleet.”

And speaking of fat cats living large while others go hungry, Read More